Winter’s Last Laugh: The Migraine
There are 190,000 migraine attacks in the UK every day, and winter only makes things worse
There’s a big difference between a migraine and a run-of-the-mill headache, as anyone who has ever experienced a migraine will know. Migraines are painful, throbbing attacks in the head which cause the UK population to lose 25 million days of work or school each year. It is the single most common neurological condition in the world, affecting around one in every seven people, but for many people migraines are far more common in winter months.
So now that the end of winter is finally in sight, it’s important to stay as safe and healthy as possible in these last few weeks before spring makes its welcome return. Let’s take a closer look at why exactly your migraine attacks are worse in winter, and what you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing migraines over the next few weeks.
Why are migraines worse in winter?
Changes provoke attacks
Sudden changes from warm to cold temperatures, or cold to warm, are known to cause head pain as your body tries to adjust to your new climate quickly. This is relevant at the start of winter when the weather first begins to get colder, but is also a significant factor throughout the season and at the end when spring approaches. Winter fluctuations in temperature tend to be more dramatic than those in summer, as some people find that simply moving from a cold street to a warm house (or vice versa) is enough to bring on a migraine.
Keeping a regular temperature in your home, and wrapping up outside, will help regulate your own temperature too. This means making sure your insulation is up to scratch, using draught excluders, and wearing a scarf, gloves and — in particular — a hat when you go outside.
You’re more likely to be dehydrated
Dehydration is a common migraine trigger, and unfortunately you’re more likely to be dehydrated in the winter than in the summer. Not only do we tend to drink less water in the winter in favour of tea and coffee, we also have to deal with winds, indoor heaters and fluctuations in barometric pressure which can all create dry air conditions.
Simply staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to avoid dehydrating migraine attacks. You can also avoid excess alcohol intake and introduce more hydrating fruits and vegetables into your diets, like red peppers and watermelon.
Less natural light, more artificial light
With winter comes shorter days, which we’re still dealing with as we watch the sun set before 5pm every day. This forces us to rely more heavily on artificial lights, even during the day when the weather is grey and dull. Long hours of harsh, bright lights are another common migraine trigger, which is why it is often advised that you lie down in a cool dark room when a migraine does strike.
Where possible, you should opt for softer lighting options and avoid staring at screens like your laptop or smartphone for long periods of time. This is particularly important in the hour before you go to bed, as exposure to bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
You’re not moving as much
When it’s cold and dark outside, we’re less likely to feel the urge to leave the house, whether it’s for a morning gym session or a Sunday walk with the family. The result of this is more time spent sitting in front of the television.
Research shows that regular exercise can help reduce migraine symptoms, with one study stating that exercising for 40 minutes three times a week can reduce migraine attacks by 25%. Even vigorous housework can get your heart rate rising enough to improve your physical fitness.
If you suffer from regular migraines and are looking for fast, effective relief, Express Pharmacy offers prescription migraine medication that can be ordered online. We even offer next day delivery options on orders placed before 12pm.